Where Journalism Is Going & Why There Should Be Optimism

lying in the weeds
is the answer for journalists simply lying in the weeds?

An interesting article by Katharine Mieszkowski for the Future of Journalism blog on Open Salon ponders what would happen if the top journalists for the New York Times left to form their own news outfit.

The idea is spawned by the idea that these writers carry niche / brand cachet that would translate to a credible value-add for related advertisers: advertise your product here and get access to a proven, committed audience (and, indeed, the NYT’s experiments with pay-walls suggests that they too recognize the potential profitability in these writers).

In a related move, many sites are commenting on AOL’s latest activities, which include hiring up journos from across the US (to the tune of 500 full-time and 1,000 freelance staffers) to staff an emerging journalism uber-pipeline.

Although it is unclear what AOL has to gain from doing this, given the market declines in the journalism industry as a whole, the move seems to be based on the Google-buys-YouTube or Yahoo-buys-Flickr models, which is: something, somehow, is going to happen with this industry and we want to be there when it does. In general, it seems the mega-companies are content to operate at a loss for several years on speculation that they’ll eventually corner a specific media market.

And in this, AOL may not be wrong. Despite the crushing defeats of traditional (print-based) media, the ubiquitous nature of the web and the growth of nifty little content delivery tools has brought a renaissance of sorts to journalism.

However, this growth is not just Citizen Journalism specific – since 2000 Journalism Programs have experienced a 4% annual growth at the undergrad level and a 5% annual growth at the graduate level despite the gloomy picture painted for the industry as a whole.

It seems that while publishers and prognosticators are wringing their hands about the future of the field (and, I would argue, rightly so), students, citizenry and major media outlets think there is enough potential in the emerging models to invest their effort, time and money.

While all this may not necessarily assuage the fears of full-time journalists (or dry the sweat from the brow of freelancers), it should offer some level of reassurance.

After all, given the difficulties journalists face in this shifting economy, even the most jaded journalists must feel that journalism is still something to believe in.

These recent developments suggest that others still believe in journalism, too.

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